Drowsy Driving Accidents
We’ve all been there and we’ve all gotten behind the wheel despite our yawns. Our responsibilities haven’t paused because we’re tired, so we march – or drive – on. But just because it’s a common occurrence, that doesn’t make drowsy driving safe.
Drowsy driving often occurs because people are overly sleepy or fatigued. In most cases, people are suffering from lack of sleep. However, in other situations, people are fatigued because of medication, alcohol, drugs, or untreated sleep disorders. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 70 million Americans who suffer from a sleep disorder.
The type of work and when you’re shifts take place can also affect how awake people are when they get behind the wheel. Night shift workers or those who work longer shifts at a time are more at risk for drowsy driving.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
There comes a time when people need to recognize they’re too tired to drive and should call a taxi or Uber or take public transportation. If someone is currently driving and notices these signs, they should pull off the road as soon as they can.
Some signals that someone is too fatigued to safely get behind the wheel are:
- Yawning often
- Blinking frequently
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting the shoulder of the road
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles or streets driven
- Missing an exit
Consequences of Drowsy Driving
When people get behind the wheel, driving needs their full, undivided attention. However, a drowsy brain isn’t up to the task. Fatigued drivers pay less attention to the road and other cars. When you’re sleepy, you’re blinking and yawning, and you might not realize there’s a car in your blink spot or the truck up ahead is slowing down.
Drowsy drivers may not make the best decisions. When you’re overly tired, your brain isn’t at 100 percent. You might not make the same decision or maneuver when you’re tired as you would when you’re wide awake.
Additionally, fatigued drivers have slower reaction times. Even if you’re doing a good job of paying attention to the road and you’re still capable of making the best call – you might not be able to execute the decision as quickly as you need to. You might see the brake lights up ahead, but it might take you a couple seconds longer than normal to hit your own brakes.
Fatigue, paying less attention, and slower reaction times are a recipe for disaster, particularly on busy streets or roads with high speed limits. With the physical and mental consequences of drowsy driving combined, it’s no wonder that sleepy driving is a common cause of car accidents. In fact, 6,000 fatal crashes are caused by drowsy drivers every year, the CDC reported.
Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel
The next step beyond drowsy is sleep. It’s a natural progression. Even when you’re trying to stay awake and perform a task, your body may be too tired to go on. Additionally, the monotony and comfort of driving can put you into safe mode, where your body functions without you consciously telling it too. Once you reach this stage, you’re likely to close your eyes too long.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 25 adult drivers over the age of 18 have reported falling asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. That may seem like a small number, but there are millions of adults in the U.S., and even if 4 percent of them fall asleep sometimes while driving, that’s thousands of individuals who are more likely to cause a potentially fatal collision.
What You Shouldn’t Do When You’re Tired
Drowsy drivers often think changing the temperature in the car, drinking a beverage with caffeine, or turning up the radio will be enough to keep them awake and going. However, these actions won’t make you any less drowsy or reduce your risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Drivers shouldn’t use artificial means to stay awake. Instead, they should rely on public transportation when they can. If they’re already driving, they should pull over to a safe place and take a 20-minute nap. The shoulder of the road is not a good place to stop, instead, take an exit and find a parking lot.
Drowsy Drivers Hurt Others
Sleepy drivers cause thousands of accidents and injuries each year. Their actions lead to car collisions that injure others – physically and emotionally. People hurt in car accidents can suffer minor to serious injuries requiring emergency medical attention, on-going medical care, being off of work, and more. If the accident caused a serious disability, the victim may need to move or modify his or her house to be able to live there. Additionally, someone with a disability may not be able to return to work.
Contact our Ohio Car Accident Lawyers Right Away
If you were injured in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver, you should contact our experienced car injury attorneys right away. By working with a lawyer, you have someone who can help you through the insurance claims process and advise you on your legal rights. If you’re unable to come to a settlement with the insurer, a lawyer can help you in court. Call Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW.